COVID-19 UPDATE

UFUSA Covid19

Wordback No15 reported on the Emergency Management (Residential Aged Care Facilities No 2) (COVID-19) Direction 2020 issued by Police Commissioner Grant Stevens under section 25 of the Emergency Management Act 2004 which required everyone entering a residential aged care facility to be immunised for the 2020 seasonal influenza from 1 May 2020. 

FLU VACCINATIONS 

While we strongly encourage members to participate in the vaccination program currently underway within the MFS, and we are heartened by the high participation rates in 2020, not everyone is able to be or chooses to be vaccinated. 

Due to the concern about how the directive would affect the MFS emergency response we pursued this issue in concert with other emergency service unions and I am pleased to report that the matter was reviewed and addressed promptly. 

Elderly People

Emergency Management (Residential Aged Care Facilities No 2) (COVID-19) Direction 2020 has been revoked and replaced by Emergency Management (Residential Aged Care Facilities No 3) (COVID-19) Direction 2020. 

Emergency services are now able to enter an aged care facility, regardless of a Flu vaccination, in cases of emergency. The direction came into effect at 0845hrs on 21 April 2020. It is important that everyone should familiarise themselves with the full Direction which is available on the COVID-19 website www.covid-19.sa.gov.au/emergency-declarations 

Members are encouraged to raise any queries or concerns in the first instance with your immediate supervisor and if you do not receive satisfaction, to speak to your local UFU Shop Steward or State Councillor to seek assistance or contact the union office info@ufusa.com.au 

FIREFIGHTERS/BAGGAGE HANDLERS/FIREFIGHTERS 

In difficult times everybody wants to help out, particularly in the MFS. 

So when a request came in last weekend for help from the Service to off load the luggage of travellers returning to Adelaide from India, the MFS stepped forward and firefighters became baggage handlers on Monday morning (20/4). 

Only problem was that consultation with the UFU was overlooked, together with a number of other considerations we reckon are very important. Like keeping the bubble intact wherever possible. Like enforcing social distancing. And ensuring that we are not doing the job of the many who have been thrown out of employment or who could do with the work. 2 

Let’s face it, the issue of baggage handling is a hot one in Adelaide right now. 

An emergency meeting was held between management and our union on Monday and following a review of the exercise, it was agreed that the plan for Tuesday morning would be abandoned. MFS management advised us that this was intended to be an interim form of assistance and assure us that there are no plans for a repeat. 

In a worst-case scenario of infection arising from the initiative, it is agreed that there will be support for the workers involved. 

The lack of consultation was acknowledged by the MFS, and an apology was extended and accepted. The parties agree that we will continue to address issues in a consultative fashion as they arise. 

The career of firefighters as baggage handlers was short but apparently instructive with a member involved in Monday’s exercise advising that they have a newfound respect for the work performed by baggage handlers. 

BROADSPECTRUM & COVID-19 

Broadspectrum management’s contingency planning should there be a loss of capacity unfortunately remains unclear, and consultation woefully inadequate. 

Together with the UFU WA our union continues to request details, in writing, about management’s proposal to drawn on “a pool of firefighters made up of ex-military, Air Services or Broadspectrum staff”. For example, what priority will be given to deploying existing members, eg crash crews? What qualifications or experiences will the personnel in this pool have? How will they ensure compliance with quarantining requirements if personnel come from interstate? What contingencies are in place to ensure any additional personnel deployed to Woomera have the requisite SAAS training? 

Social distancing requirements have further highlighted the urgent need for upgrades to the sleeping quarters at Edinburgh fire station, and we have called for the upgrade to be fast tracked. 

Members have also been told that in the unfortunate situation where they have to self-isolate because of Covid-19, they will be required to take sick leave. It is unfair and it goes against encouraging staff to stay home as early as possible, to avoid spreading the disease. UFUSA has called on management to provide paid time off with no deductions against members’ leave balances. 

Consultation is not optional and is vital for ensuring the health, safety, and conditions of members! 

BALLOT RESULT IN ELECTION FOR THE UFUSA STATE COUNCIL VACANCY 

I’m pleased to advise members of the declaration of this ballot today by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC). The formal AEC declaration of the ballot document can be accessed by clicking here. In summary, the outcome of the ballot for the Committee of Management member – Firefighter Representative is as follows: 

1ST PREFERENCE VOTESFINAL VOTES
HARRINGTON, Duncan22
CAIRE, Andrew162193
EISEN, Rachel38
FISCHER, Kevin124150

Accordingly, Andy Caire has been declared elected to the position and we all extend our congratulations and welcome him to the State Council. 

All candidates are sincerely thanked for your interest in participating in the governance of our union and we look forward to continuing to work with you as union activists and representative voices of firefighters in your roles as Shop Stewards. 

Thank you also to all of you who exercised your vote and participated in the ballot; such interest is what will sustain our union into the future. 

SA BUSHFIRE REVIEW 

The UFUSA Submission to the Independent Review into South Australia’s 2019 – 20 Bushfire Season, currently being conducted by Mr Mick Keelty was lodged on Tuesday, 21 April 2020. 

A copy of the UFUSA Bushfire Inquiry Submission has been distributed to and is available from your Shop Stewards/Work Health and Safety Representatives. 

Thank you to all who contributed information which forms the basis of this Submission, and in particular thank you to UFU Project Officer Séamus Krumrey-Quinn and State Councillor Gideon Douglas who have done most of the heavy lifting in pulling together the information and authorities for this Submission. 

Next Monday, 27 April 2020 at 14:00 hours I will be appearing before the Review by videoconference to address our Submission, together with Chas Thomas, Gideon Douglas and Séamus Krumrey-Quinn, so please let us know as soon as possible if you have any matters which you feel have not been addressed in the submission by either calling us or sending information to info@ufusa.com.au. 

National Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements. 

The UFUSA will be joining with UFU Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia to make a joint submission to the national Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements. 

You may recall that the Commissioners in this Royal Commission will be: 

– Retired Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin AC; 

– Former Federal Court Judge Dr Annabelle Bennett AC SC; and 

– Professor Andrew Macintosh (specialist in climate risk and impact management). 

The Commission will focus on three areas: 

• Improving natural disaster management co-ordination across all levels of government; 

• Improving Australia’s preparedness and resilience to changing climatic conditions and its response to natural disasters across all levels of government; and 

• The legal framework for the Commonwealth’s involvement in responding to national emergencies and how that works with state and territory legal frameworks, including whether the Commonwealth should have the power the declare a state of national emergency. 

The South Australian submission will be fed into the national process as well as the state inquiry. 

Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any matters or information you wish to be included in that joint submission. 4 

MAY DAY 2020 

Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, the May Day rally and dinner for 2020 have had to be cancelled. Celebrations are instead going online, with talks, performances, merchandise, wine and even a May Day 2020 Spotify play list available. 

For further information please see the flyer here, or the SA May Day Collective Facebook page here. 

MOTHER’S DAY CLASSIC 

Yes, as previously reported, the MDC is going ahead – in virtual form! 

All current registrations receive automatic access to the virtual platform. All new registrations are very welcome and are at a discounted entry fee. 

UFU T-shirts are still part of your registration and will come in handy for when you keep a photographic record of your runs and send them in to the SAMFS media team. 

Your MDC organising committee is working hard so please do join the “United Firefighters Union of SA” team and register now here. 

In solidarity,

COVID-19 UPDATE

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United Fire Fighters Union Of South Australia - UFUSA

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